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October 12, 2012

Safety Tips for Women Visiting India – Video

Recently, I shared a few safety tips with a group of young American women planning to study abroad in India. This video shares some of these tips. Scroll below the video to read some highlights of the video and additional information.

These Tips Are Based On….
  • The author, an American, having lived in a ladies’ hostel in Chennai. Though this was years ago, many of the regulations, such as not leaving before 6am or having to be in by dark (6:30 pm) and not going out after returning home are still prevalent in many hostels, paying guest houses, and family houses throughout South India (baring maybe some more open living arrangements in places like Bangalore and Chennai and other rare situations).
  • The author is currently married to an Indian citizen and following safety rules of most Indian families in South India, and Kochi.

Yes, there are exceptions to these rules, but on the whole if you follow these below tips, you will without a doubt be safer in general. Do listen to the above-embedded video for more details on each tip.

Safety Tips
1. Call your local contacts regularly to keep them up to date where you are, what you are doing, and whom you are doing it with.
2. Do not go out after dark, if possible. Some housing situations have a curfew.
3. If you have to be out after dark, try to be out with one or more other people.
4. Let someone know where you are going and what you are doing everyday. Remember to update them regularly throughout the day.
5. Dress conservatively.
6. Try not to stay alone.

Bonus Tip:
7. Register on your India stay on your country's consulate website.

Things to keep in mind:
In South India, the term “girls” often refers to any female regardless of age. Some Western women over the age of 16 may get offended to be referred to as a ‘girl.’ To many Westerners, the use of the word ‘girl’ may give the impression of ‘immaturity’ or being ‘childlike.’

Police are seen on the streets of India. Foreigners may even have to register themselves at police stations. In some areas of South India, it’s better for women to be accompanied by men in police stations. The police may be more apt to listen to the man than to you, so be aware of this. Also, police do not maintain safety in the same way as in the West. That is why people constantly check in with someone to let them know where they are, what they are doing and who they are doing it with.

It’s a gift to have someone keep tabs on you. Remember, however annoying it may feel as a Western woman to have someone keeping tabs on you, they are not doing this to invade your privacy, but they are doing this because they care about your safety. They are not only your friend and ‘security guard’, but also the person who can help you because they really do care about you and feel responsible for your well-being. I have known Western ‘girls’ in India passing 50 years old that are ‘forced’ to live with a maid and check in with their host daily as to their whereabouts so they are never alone. This is a reality in some parts of India, and I have heard experiences and met people in South India for whom this is their reality.

And, if any of this doesn’t make sense or seems untrue, find a local Indian girlfriend and ask her how many of these safety tips her and her friends heed. Another interesting perspective is talk to working women, their bosses or human resources managers as to any special approaches they use to maintain safety for their female employees (Some examples I have heard that I can’t imagine being acceptable in most parts of the U.S. are: allowing female employees to go home earlier, arranging special transportation options, accepting absence due to house mother being out of town, etc.). Feel free to share any new tips learned below.

Thank you, and as always, stay safe.

Note: If you are facing culture shock due to different safety regulations you must take or for any reason, check out my free resource – “How to create a culture shock relief plan.” In this post, I share a worksheet you can use to identify your thoughts, feelings and create a plan to overcome some culture shock situation you are facing. I have also included an example from my personal experience adjusting to life in India, and how I overcame a culture shock incident.

Related Posts:
Challenges Faced by Female Expats
Managing Teams in Different Parts of India

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.